Posted on Oct 07, 2011
It seems a long time ago now, but when I went to sales school, one of the principles I learned was to identify what the customer needs.
It may seem simple - but it has stood the test of time. It is much easier to make a sale when you are fulfilling a need than attempting to sell what the customer neither needs nor wants.
The key of course is to identify the need. Just as Apple has been spectacularly successful in identifying needs we as consumers didn't even know we had, and then filling these needs with their intuitive and easy to use products, so too are most competent sales people better placed to identify needs than customers.
The average customer will be competent at their core business. But then when it comes to services necessary to run that business we would expect varying levels of competency. We would expect our travel agent to be able to route our flights to Timbuktu and back, and book hotels along the way, but not reasonably be able to fix the computer they made these bookings on when it stops working.
It's the same with accommodation for a business. Business people know they need a building to house their business in - but how many are competent with many of the principles which define modern workplaces, from space allocation per office worker through the various types of pallet racking and their advantages and disadvantages. Obviously the best and most knowledgeable people in this regard should be the industry professionals who are selling and leasing industrial real estate. When buying computer equipment it makes sense to rely on the professional selling the equipment to make sense of the technical specifications.
Surely it would be commonsense for business people to be able to rely on industry professionals for similar advice in understanding the practical aspects of industrial building accommodation.
It is disappointing, and often downright disturbing, that too often we hear of industry personnel who feel their job is to take calls (if they feel so inclined - but that is another story!) from enquirers and then dish out an address and a price.
I have even witnessed salespeople supposedly showing a building, but in fact discussing the weather, sporting events, and not focusing in any way on the clients needs.
Perhaps it is time that we all spent more time understanding what clients need, and how various buildings may or may not suit them.
Part of that is obviously understanding how warehouses (including racking and forklifts) work, how manufacturing process flows operate, and how modern offices and technology function. But surely that is all part of the job?